Opening Nights: Love Song

A hairstylist makes a commanding debut.

There is no singing in Love Song, and the oft-profane, blisteringly paced dialogue is rarely romantic. This not-quite-what-it-seems theme extends throughout the whole production. John Kolvenbach's play is a story about the relationship between two siblings masquerading as a story about the relationships of two couples; Flowers for Algernon masquerading as Closer.Harry (Nick DeSantis) is married to Joan (Heather Hawkins). The crackling opening scene establishes them as quintessential yuppies, bright and combative, who love each other even if they're not blissfully in love. In walks Joan's brother, Beane (Christopher Zinovitch), a slow, bald schmo. Harry attempts to submit Beane to a 200-question personality test, but it takes Beane five minutes to make it through one question—prompting a dozen questions about that question—and the experiment is shelved in frustration.Later, Beane returns to his small, austere apartment to find an intruder sitting in his easy chair. She quickly establishes domination over the person whose home she's trying to burglarize. Only she can't really burglarize it, because there's nothing of value to burgle.The intruder's name is Molly (Cindy Bradder), and she admonishes Beane for his lack of valuable possessions. Still later, over lunch with his sister, Beane professes his love for Molly, and starts behaving in a bizarrely invigorated manner. Yet this new, alarming behavior also reinvigorates her relationship with Harry.The dialogue in Love Song is intentionally off-kilter. Its four characters say what real people feel but don't say, as if they're incapable of biting their tongues. It's an incredibly sharp, engaging, and witty script, and uniformly well-acted. DeSantis has a frazzled everyman quality reminiscent of Paul Giamatti; Zinovitch paces his character's evolution perfectly; and Hawkins nails the bitch-on-wheels with a heart of gold.But the revelation here is Bradder, a Fremont hairstylist making her professional acting debut. (She's done hair and costume work for ArtsWest before, and has performed in a handful of amateur productions with the Microsoft Theatre Troupe.) In a four-hander with a very bare stage, there's nowhere to hide. And with Bradder's ability to command the attention of everyone in the room, you can't imagine her hiding. Nor would you want her to.

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